Turkey’s Islamist government has summoned the Swedish ambassador in Ankara for ticking-off after the Nordic nation’s foreign minister condemned Turkey effectively decriminalising sex with children younger than 15.
Last month, Turkey’s Constitutional Court annulled a provision ensuring all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 are punished as “sexual abuse,” drawing harsh criticism from activists who warn that the decision will lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished.
Just days before the news broke, the Swedish Foreign minister Margot Wallström was insisting that “we [Sweden] continue to support Turkey’s EU membership.” However, this Sunday evening, she Tweeted: “Turkish decision to allow sex with children under 15 must be reversed. Children need more protection, not less, against violence, sex abuse.”
“You are clearly misinformed. There is no such stupid thing in Turkey. Please get your facts right”, replied the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Simsek, on the social media site.
You are clearly misinformed. There is no such stupid thing in Turkey. Please get your facts right. https://t.co/vrg9ybdsY0
— Mehmet Simsek (@memetsimsek) August 15, 2016
The Turkish foreign ministry promptly called for the tweet to be censored and the Swedish deputy ambassador, Hedvig Lohm, was summed to a meeting in the Turkish capital, Swedish paper Dagnes Nyheter reports.
“It’s a scandal for a foreign minister to write such a tweet based on false news or speculation,” said a furious Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Turkish TV interview.
“The Turkish Foreign Ministry has expressed disappointment over the tweet. They think it is a misconception and that Wallström has drawn hasty conclusions”, explained Pezhman Fivrin from Sweden’s Foreign Ministry’s press service.
Over the weekend Turkey also summoned Austria’s charge d’affairs, after a paper published the headline: “Turkey allows sex with children under the age of 15,” which was used in news tickers at Vienna’s international airport
“This [Austrian] headline tarnishes the image of Turkey, and is false,” a Turkish diplomat said after his Austrian counterpart was summoned to the ministry. The headline was later removed from the airport.
In April of this year, the Islamist government also demanded a poem mocking Preident Erdoğan was banned by the German state. The comedian responsible was later charged and threatened with five years imprisonment.
A year before that, Sweden’s Mrs. Wallström described conditions in Saudi Arabia as “medieval,” and tweeted that the imprisonment and flogging of blogger and human rights activist Raif Badawi was a “cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression.”
The Gulf state then threatened to cut trade links with Sweden and the episode culminated in a grovelling apologies from the King of Sweden and the prime minister, coupled with reassurances that Sweden will not criticise Saudi or Islam so publicly again and promises to further Islamic interests in Sweden.